The Route to Success

By Nilooka Dissanayake

Recently a friend of mine sent an email asking
“What’s the right attitude for success, if there is such an attitude?”

It really felt like a trick question to me until I realized she really wanted to know my opinion.

This is my reply:

“I think, the right attitude is dreaming big dreams (no matter how silly or impossible they may seem, or what others tell you) and saying YES, I CAN DO IT and working very hard in a persistent manner towards that. Never giving up.

You know that poem about, ‘if you think you are beaten, you are; If you think you dare not, you don’t’ etc. which is attributed to Napoleon Hill. I think that is the right attitude.

You can also make your chances of success better by doing creative visualization on that. It helps.”

Well, that is what I truly believe.

But these days, I guess that is not how people seek success. Whether in exams, sports, entrepreneurship in the world of work, or in life, they look for short cuts.

Why study? There are others who will sit for exam for you for a payment. The City of New York is battling to stop school kids from cheating at exams and test using mobile telephones and the Internet. If all that fails, you can get a bogus certificate. When you get out of school, or university you want a ‘good job’ with a ‘big’ salary and most important, the least amount of work. In business, you seek to make the maximum amount of money in the shortest period of time.

Globalization and the consumer society coupled with the pervasive impact of the Internet and mobile communications exposure the best and the worst that the planet has to offer, and aggravate our longings.

Many books also fuel our delusions. The first “self-help” book, titled aptly as ‘Self-Help,’ was written by Samuel Smiles and published in 1859. By now ‘self help’ has become a genre that seems to out class all others in volume. Do a search on Google and you would come up with thousands of self help books; helping you achieve anything, right now! Besides books there are also other products that claim they can help you achieve fantastic feats. With all that, why bother to learn, study, work? There are short cuts to everything. Almost.

But all hope is not lost. In the first article that I came across when I searched for “how to get rich” – How To Get Rich On The Internet In 7 Easy Steps – Michael J. McGroarty gives this as the Step #1: “Forget about getting Rich. Instead concentrate on establishing a cyber business that you can be extremely proud of.”

Ironically, in one of the best selling books in the self help genre, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, Stephen R. Covey makes the point that achieving effectiveness in whatever sphere is a gradual process. You cannot become effective or successful overnight. It takes time and growth – just like you need to wait to reap a harvest after you plant the seeds. He goes one step ahead and says, that while you can succeed overnight, by chance or by whatever technique, but that wont be a lasting kind of success.

“I am the toughest golfer mentally,” says Tiger Woods who believes that his success is more a matter of mind power, mental discipline and focus, than of hard work. But he works pretty hard too, of course, striving continuously, competing with himself saying: “I will do it with all my heart.”

It is difficult to define success because it is so very personal. Most of us sleep walk through life without discovering what we want. Or we settle for a ready-made variety of “success” and complain when we are not happy even after achieving it.

What is you definition of success? How can you achieve it, if you don’t know?

If you think you are beaten, you are;

If you think you dare not, you don’t.

If you’d like to win, but think you can’t

It’s almost a cinch you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’ve lost.

For out in the world we find

Success begins with a fellow’s will:

It’s all in his state of mind.

If you think you’re outclassed, you are:

You’ve got to think high to rise,

You’ve got to be sure of yourself before

You’ll ever win that prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go

To the stronger or faster man,

But sooner or later the man who wins

Is the one who thinks he can.

~Attributed to Author Napoleon Hill; circa 1973
Originally published in the Business@Home column in the Sunday Times FT in July 2005
Photo by Gerd Altmann from Pexels

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